Dog leukemia is a condition that occurs in dogs, during which an abnormal increase in white blood cells occurs. This is due to a genetic mutation. That mutation increases the production of these cells and does not create enough other necessary blood cells in the affected dog. There are several factors that need to be known. There are chronic and acute types of leukemia in dogs. They are based on the type of cells that are affected by the disease.
Causes of Dog Leukemia
Just as with Dog Cancer, any breed of dog can have leukemia. While the leukemia can occur at any age, it tends to occur primarily in older dogs. Unfortunately veterinarians and scientists know very little about the actual causes of canine leukemia. There is a possibility that high toxin or radiation exposure through the dogs life may contribute to the onset of the disease.
Signs and Symptoms
Canine leukemia can be an extremely serious condition. Acute leukemia has a higher mortality rate than chronic. Chances of a dog surviving acute leukemia are not good. Chronic leukemia, on the other hand, can often go undetected and the dog can live a full life with no symptoms.
Not knowing the actual causes prevents us from knowing how to prevent it. There is a possibility that keeping your dog in a safe environment may play a large part in the prevention of canine leukemia.
Although there is no defined cure for canine leukemia, there are treatment modalities that are available. Chemotherapy is one of those treatments. Chemotherapy can extend your dog’s life for a short period of a few months or even years, but it is not guaranteed to allow a full life. That would be the scenario in acute leukemia. Often chronic leukemia requires no treatment at all. It depends on whether or not the cancerous cells outnumber the healthy cells. Regular checkups from your veterinarian will keep the chronic conditions in tow.
Types of Canine Leukemia
There are four different types of leukemia in dogs. It can involve either the lymph nodes or the dog’s bone marrow. It is believed that dogs are more likely to develop that which affects the lymph nodes rather than the bone marrow.
Acute Lymphoid Leukemia (ALL)
This is defined as one that affects over 30% of the white cells in the dog’s bone marrow, and is categorized as cancerous. This type of leukemia is considered to be rather serious and an affected dog will usually live for only a few days or weeks depending on fast the disease progress in the dog’s body.
Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)
There are cells in a dog’s body called myeloid cells. Acute myeloid leukemia will negatively affect these myeloid cells. It is the canine leukemia type that leads to the overproduction of white blood cells. These then interfere with the production of red blood cells that are actually healthy cells. This will, in turn, harmfully affect the cells in the dog’s bone marrow, and healthy bone marrow cells will eventually be replaced with the new cancerous cells.
Chronic Lymphoid Leukemia (CLL)
This canine leukemia most often occurs when cancerous cells become mixed with healthy cells in the dog’s body. However, if your dog has enough of these healthy cells already in their body, then their potential survival rate will increase. This leukemia affects the lymphocytes. The reduction of lymphocytes will cause an increase in overall vulnerability to infections, as lymphocytes support the immune response in mammals.
Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML)
An increase in the number of myeloid cells in the marrow classifies this as CML. It will also increase the presence of the cells in the dog’s blood system. It causes the production of mature granulocytes as well as the occurrence of chromosomal translocation.